Ontario Passes “Right to Disconnect” Legislation

Just over a month ago I did a post mentioning this piece of legislation that was proposed.  It has now been passed and is awaiting Royal Assent.  One thing to notice (that will affect ALL employers) is the the banning of non-compete agreements which will also become law when the Act receives Royal Assent and will be backdated to October 25, 2021.  Read below for more…


On November 30th, 2021, the Ontario government passed the Working for Workers Act (“Act”).
 
The Act, which was first introduced back in October, will require employers with 25 or more employees to develop a written disconnecting from work policy. In the Act, “disconnecting from work” is defined as, “not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work”.
 

Challenging Mandatory Vaccination Policies In Ontario: Arbitrators Take A First Look And Reach Differing Conclusions

The majority of our clients are NOT unionized, but these decisions often form the legislative, and regulatory rules that follow.


There are now three recent Ontario arbitration decisions that address whether an employer may require its unionized employees to be vaccinated. While directly relevant to unionized employers, given the lack of case law considering the issue, these decisions may have further-reaching impacts on all employers in Ontario.

READ ARTICLE

Evolving Issues in Workplace Investigations Seminar -Thursday at noon

If you are interested, Williams HR Law is putting on this free lunchtime webinar tomorrow.


This webinar covers how the evolving landscape of our New World of Work has impacted how employers conduct and address issues related to workplace investigations. Topics will include common pitfalls in conducting workplace investigations in our current climate; critical considerations when selecting investigators; and when investigations may require specialized training in equity, anti-oppression, anti-racism, and/or trauma.

The Zoom link will be provided to all registrants prior to the event. For those who have not yet registered, please click here to register.

Is Refusing To Get Vaccinated Just Cause For Termination In The Non-unionized Workplace?

There has been a fair amount of discussion around vaccination policies and the impending unpaid leave of absences, with possible termination coming down the road. At the moment, they are only discussion as we have seen no court cases (yet) to provide direction.  Arbitration cases have gone both ways, but it’s still early days.  The article below identifies some of an employers considerations.


As workplaces around the country implement employee vaccination policies in response to the pandemic, the obvious question arises of what can be done to enforce them. A well-crafted policy will include provisions on what discipline may apply to employees who fail to comply. However, the existence of a policy statement regarding treatment of non-compliant employees does not, in and of itself, justify all disciplinary measures carried out thereunder.

READ ARTICLE

Employment Update: When Can Employers Provide an Exemption to COVID-19 Vaccination Policy Requirements?

An interesting article has been posted by Blaney McMurtry Employment Lawyer.  It contains information on bon fide reasons for exemptions (very few it appears) and what they must contain.  Also interesting is the reference to the Ontario Human Rights Commission statement we posted back on September 22nd.


In our September 9, 2021 Employment Update: Reopening Workplaces and Vaccination Policies, we reported on recommendations for employers in Ontario to institute a workplace vaccination policy to protect their employees and the public from COVID-19, as well as some considerations for such policies.   

While the provincial government has not mandated vaccination for all workplaces, Ontario’s mandatory proof of vaccine requirement for patrons of certain indoor public settings commenced on September 22, 2021. In the context of these new regimes, the question that has been left for employees and employers alike, is: Who can be exempt from these vaccination policies?

https://www.blaney.com/articles/when-can-employers-provide-an-exemption-to-covid-19-vaccination-policy-requirements?

Updated Guidance On How Employers Should Fill Out Records Of Employment During COVID-19 Pandemic

If you are wondering how to code Records of Employment forms (ROE’s) in this “COVID” era, take a quick read of this short article below…


The Record of Employment (ROE) (Block 16) provides information on an employee’s employment history when they apply for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.  The information on an ROE is used by Service Canada to determine the employee’s eligibility to receive EI benefits, the benefit amount, and how long the benefits will be paid.  Employers must issue an ROE each time an employee experiences an interruption of earnings. Canada provides a guide on How to Complete the ROE form.

READ THE ARTICLE HERE

Ontario to propose ‘right-to-disconnect’ laws

I’m not so sure that Ontario employers need any more legislation, but those with over 25 staff could be required to implement “right to disconnect” standards in the very near future.  Take a read of the article below for more information.


Ontario employers will soon be required to create right-to-disconnect policies for their workplaces, in an effort to address the ills of “hyper-connectivity.”

Legislation expected to be introduced this week will, if passed, require workplaces with more than 25 employees to develop internal right-to-disconnect standards. The move would make Ontario the first province in Canada to implement such a measure.

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2021/10/25/buried-in-after-hours-emails-ontario-to-propose-right-to-disconnect-laws.html

Updates to minimum wage rates across Canada

Although the majority of Mainstay clients pay well in excess of minimum wage, I thought it important to share these changes…


Employers in Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland & Labrador and Saskatchewan, will be required to comply with the new increased minimum wage effective October 1, 2021.

Effective October 1, 2021, the general minimum wage in Ontario increased to $14.35 per hour. Under the Making Ontario Open for Business Act this increase is tied to the Ontario Consumer Price Index for 2020.

Similar to Ontario, Saskatchewan’s minimum wage is calculated using an indexation formula. Accordingly, effective October 1, 2021, the minimum wage in Saskatchewan increased to $11.81 per hour.

Manitoba’s minimum wage has also increased. As of October 1, 2021, the minimum wage in Manitoba increased to $11.95 per hour.

Finally, on October 1, 2021, Newfoundland and Labrador introduced its second of two wage increases for 2021. Accordingly, minimum wage in this province is now $12.75 per hour.

Below is a reminder of the general minimum wage rates across Canada.
British Columbia: $15.20 effective June 1, 2021
Alberta: $15.00 effective October 1, 2018
Saskatchewan: $11.81 effective October 1, 2021
Manitoba: $11.95 effective October 1, 2021
Ontario: $14.35 effective October 1, 2021
Quebec: $13.50 effective May 1, 2021
New Brunswick: $11.75 effective April 1, 2021
Nova Scotia: $12.95 effective April 1, 2021
Prince Edward Island: $13.00 effective April 1, 2021
Newfoundland and Labrador: $12.75 effective October 1, 2021
Northwest Territories: $15.20 effective September 1, 2021
Yukon: $15.20 effective August 1, 2021
Nunavut: $16.00 effective April 1, 2020

READ THE POST

ALL EMPLOYERS SHOULD READ – OHRC statement on COVID-19 vaccine mandates…

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)  has released a statement on covid-19 vaccine mandates and vaccine certificates.

The statement is helpful for employers and provides guidance on potential for non-medical code accommodations.

The OHRC confirmed requiring proof of vaccination to protect people at work is generally permissible under the Human Rights Code (“Code”):

“While receiving a COVID-19 vaccine remains voluntary, the OHRC takes the position that mandating and requiring proof of vaccination to protect people at work or when receiving services is generally permissible under the Human Rights Code (Code) as long as protections are put in place to make sure people who are unable to be vaccinated for Code-related reasons are reasonably accommodated. This applies to all organizations.

With respect to non-medical accommodations, the OHRC confirmed a personal belief will not be covered by the Code:

The OHRC and relevant human rights laws recognize the importance of balancing people’s right to non-discrimination and civil liberties with public health and safety, including the need to address evidence-based risks associated with COVID-19.

Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary. At the same time, the OHRC’s position is that a person who chooses not to be vaccinated based on personal preference does not have the right to accommodation under the Code. The OHRC is not aware of any tribunal or court decision that found a singular belief against vaccinations or masks amounted to a creed within the meaning of the Code.

While the Code prohibits discrimination based on creed, personal preferences or singular beliefs do not amount to a creed for the purposes of the Code.”

Please see the attached link below for the full statement:

http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/news_centre/ohrc-policy-statement-covid-19-vaccine-mandates-and-proof-vaccine-certificates

EMPLOYER WEBINAR – COVID-19: Returning to Work During the 4th Wave in Ontario

We have had several clients reach out wondering about the return to office, vaccination policies, exemptions, accommodations etc.

This seminar below may be of help, but you need to register this week by Monday, September 27, 2021


COVID-19: Returning to Work During the 4th Wave in Ontario

We are pleased to invite you to an upcoming webinar with Blaneys’ Employment Lawyers, Christopher McClelland and Jack Siegel on September 28, 2021 at 12:00 PM EDT. 

As Ontario continues to reopen and with virtually all employees eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, many employers are moving forward with a gradual return to the workplace. What guidelines do employers need to follow as part of their reopening plans? 

Join us for a discussion about: 

  • Vaccination policies: What should be included? Can employers insist on employee vaccination?
  • The latest on public health measures and health & safety protocols
  • Ending, modifying or maintain alternate work arrangements (remote / hybrid)
  • Accommodating a returning workforce
  • Supporting employees in navigating and enforcing vaccination requirements

This session will end with a Q&A where we will try to answer as many of your questions as possible.

This webinar is complimentary and open to you and your colleagues. We hope you can join us!

To register please click here.